Beasts of the Southern Wild: movie review
Director Benh Zeitlin can't seem to get a visual rhythm going in 'Beasts.'
Mary Cybulski/Fox Searchlight Pictures/AP
Much film festival praise has been showered on â€śBeasts of the Southern Wildâ€ť and I wish I could join in. But this movie about a ragamuffin 6-year-old girl, Hushpuppy (spunky QuvenzhanĂ© Wallis), her messed-up father, Wink (Dwight Henry), and the southern Louisiana swampland they inhabit kept reminding me of movies I wish I had been watching instead (like Robert Flahertyâ€™s â€śLouisiana Storyâ€ť).
Director Benh Zeitlin, working from a script by Lucy Alibar adapted from her stage play â€śJuicy and Delicious,â€ť canâ€™t seem to get a visual rhythm going. He mixes harsh realism with (unmagical) magical realism; and the results are often ungainly, especially when he stages an attack by giant boarlike creatures. (I wanted to quip: â€śWhere the Wild Things Arenâ€™t.â€ť) The endangered swampland dwellers are supposed to be an indigenous pastoral community threatened by eco-unfriendly oil refineries. I kept rooting for Hushpuppy and Co. to leave behind their squalor and relocate. This is not the politically correct response. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality.)